In his first conference and official unveiling with Montreal Impact, Thierry Henry spoke of his appointment as head coach, addressed his reasons for joining the club, his overall plan and even discussed his recent tenure with Ligue 1's Monaco, a job that ended in disappointing fashion after being relieved of his duties in January after 20 matches and leaving the team in 19th place.
"It didn't work out in Monaco. I can give you a lot of excuses but at the end of the day it didn't work out and I am here as a coach of Montreal," said Henry. "I learned a lot there. The only mistake you can make is not learning but you have to return and confront it. It was a great learning process, and I’m very positive for what’s to come with this club.”
Henry reminded everyone of his successes as a player (including a World Cup title in 1998) came thanks to dealing with tough times earlier in his career and that's what made him better. "You guys always remember the good stuff, but I became a better player in the darkness. Hopefully that's going to help me to become a good coach."
Henry will take charge of Montreal in mid-January during training camp and plans to revitalize a club that ended this year's season with a 12-17-5 record, missing the MLS Cup Playoffs for a third consecutive season.
"I often talk about the team. When the team is there, individualities shine," Henry said, when speaking of his overall vision. "The team comes before everything, it’s the most important aspect. It’s important for us to be excited, for us to want to conquer.”
The 42-year-old manager is a big fan of the city as it offers a rich blend of diversity and multiculturalism. "It’s pretty simple: if you take the best of Europe and the best part of the continent here, you arrive in Montreal. It’s the perfect bridge. The city is so diverse, people come from everywhere, but first and foremost they’re from Montreal. It’s an outstanding city."
For the club, Henry's arrival should also raise ticket sales, and this is something that needs to improve in 2020, given the fact that attendance at Stade Saputo reached all-time lows this year. Earlier in the season, for example, only 11,966 attended Montreal's win against Real Salt Lake. In addition, according to CBC News, the league's average for season ticket holders is around 13,500 while Montreal's is 9,000. An alarming number taking in mind it sells one of the cheapest tickets in MLS.
CEO Kevin Gilmore confirmed that Henry's announcement has ignited ticket sales for next season. "We ring a bell every time we sell a season ticket,” Gilmore said. “And the bell rings quite often since the announcement [Henry's appointment].
After three seasons of not making it to the playoffs, Impact fans now turn to a manager who, just like their club, look for redemption in 2020.